Term of Art: Visual Perception Disabilities

“visual perception disabilities: Students with visual perception disabilities have trouble making sense out of what they see, not because they have poor eyesight but because their brains process visual information differently.

Children with this problem have trouble organizing, recognizing, interpreting, or remembering visual images. This means that they will have trouble understanding the written and picture symbols they need in school—letters, words, numbers, math symbols, diagrams, maps, charts, and graphs.

Because this type of visual problem is subtle, it is often undiscovered until the child starts having problems in school. Visual perception problems include the ability to recognize images a person has seen before and attach meaning to them; to discriminate among similar images or words, and to separate significant features from background details; and to recognize the same symbol in different forms (understanding, for example, that the letter ‘D’ is the letter ‘D’ whether it is uppercase or lowercase, in different colors or fonts). Sequences are another important visual perception skill; a child with a visual sequencing problem may not understand the difference between the words ‘saw’ and ‘was.’

Students with visual perception problems are usually slow to learn letters and numbers, and often make mistakes, omissions, and reversals. They often have trouble with visual memory and visualization and may be extremely slow readers.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

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